Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beef Braised in Tomatillo sauce

This is a 40 minute meal. While your brown rice is steaming, you can prepare a hearty and satisfying dish.  Any of you who have eaten at my house know I make this dish often. It can be prepared with many different cuts of beef, pork, chicken or fish. This dish, braised ground beef in tomatillo sauce is tangy and flavorful. The tomatillo, Physalis philadelphica, is a member of the tomato family and also referred to as the 'green tomato'.  It is a staple in Mexican dishes. Here is the recipe:   

Tomatillos with husks

Ingredients for tomatillo sauce
  • 1 lb Lasater ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 6 Medium tomatillos, fresh & quartered (be sure to remove outer paper husk)
  • 1 small onion or ¼ of large onion, peeled and cut into two pieces
  • 1 Clove garlic, peeled and cut into two pieces
  • ¼ Jalapeno, use tip exclude seeds 
  • 1 Cup fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 Cups stock or water
  • ½ Winter squash, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 Cup peas or green beans
  • 1 Cup carrots, thickly sliced
  • Salt & Pepper

Handled Strainer
In blender place broth, tomatillos, onion, garlic, cilantro, & jalapeno. Blend thoroughly.
Set aside, have handled strainer (colander) on hand ready to use.
Heat deep saute pan with lid, then add olive oil.

Place ground beef in pan and brown. Be sure to break it up small pieces.
Using handled strainer, pour blended tomatillo mixture through strainer over ground beef.
Using spatula press mixture through handled strainer.
Add chopped vegetables, salt & pepper.
Place lid on pan and bring to a simmer.
Maintain simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until root vegetables are tender. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Traditional Pot Roast

Pot roast is one of those dishes that you can cook while you take care of other things.  The heat, time, & moisture break down the connective tissue in tougher beef cuts. This method of cooking is also referred to as braising. Any one of the roasts included in a Lasater family sampler pack can be used to prepare this dish. Here is a recipe for traditional pot roast: 

Seared pot roast
  • 1 roast 3-5lbs (English, Chuck, Pikes Peak, Rump, etc)
  • ½ - 1 Cup red wine (if you do not have wine, use a beer)
  • 3 Carrots or large hand full of small, cut into bize size pieces
  • 3 Potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 Medium-large onion
  • 3-5 Garlic cloves
  • 4 Cups broth or more if needed (See Lasater blogspot for homemade broth)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • ½-1 Teaspoon thyme

Seared roast w/onions, garlic & wine
Bring roast to room temperature.
In dutch oven or stock pot sear roast on medium-high heat using olive oil or lard.
Sear roast on all sides.
Deglaze pan with red wine.
Place sliced or quartered onions & garlic below the roast in dutch oven/stock pot.
Add herbs such as thyme.
Stove top: Add broth, cover, bring to a 
simmer then lower heat to maintain simmer if using a stock pot, simmer for 2-3 hours.
Dutch oven: Add broth, cover, and place in over on 350 degrees for 2-3 hours or until meat is tender.

Pot Roast will be done when the meat is so tender it can be pulled apart with little effort.
Season to taste with salt & pepper.
Add potatoes & carrots about 30 minutes before serving or until vegetables are tender
Add more salt & pepper if needed.
Thicken with cornstarch, arrowroot, or kudzu. In a Pyrex measuring cup or mug, dissolve approx. 1Tbsp of cornstarch in 1 cup of broth. Then add the cornstarch mixture back into pot roast dish and stir.  
(Kudzu or Pueraria lobata is a tuberous starchy root used to thicken dishes)

You should get a rich, succulent dish that will satisfy even the most discerning palette. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Vegetable Soup with Liver

I was out at Cure Organic Farm the other night and prepared a few dishes for folks to sample. I made a traditional pot roast, ground beef braised in a tomatillo sauce, and vegetable soup with liver. Liver from pasture raised cattle is so nutritious. In addition to being an excellent source of protein, it contains the B complex vitamins, is a good source of folic acid, is a very accessible form of iron, and contains trace elements such as copper.  Copper, along with iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells. It also helps in keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy. Copper is essential for maintaining the health of your bones and connective tissues.  Here is the recipe for Vegetable soup with liver:
  • 1 lb Liver, sliced ½” thick
  • 3 Carrots or hand full of small
  • 2 Celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 Medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Yam
  • 2 Cups winter squash
  • 6 Cups broth or more (See Lasater blogspot for homemade stock)
  • 1 Cup chopped tomatoes (frozen from summer)1 Cup mixed peppers (frozen from fall)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • Thyme
  • Swiss chard or spinach (garnish & added nutrients)

Saute onions, carrots, celery, winter squash, yam & potatoes in olive oil for 5-8 mintues on med-high, add garlic saute for additional 1-2 minutes.
Add tomatoes, peppers & stock.
Add salt, pepper & thyme or other herbs (tarragon, parsely).
Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 30-40 minutes or until root vegetables are tender.
Slice liver into ½” thick pieces.
Season liver with generous amounts of salt & pepper.
Heat skillet on med-high.
Add olive oil to pan, let heat for 30-60 seconds.
Place liver in pan and sear on both sides approximately 2 minutes each side or less. Chop into to small pieces and add to soup.
Serve soup with liver immediately.
Liver is best when cooked quickly and left a bit pink inside.

Fresh fall & summer frozen vegetables
Vegetable soup with liver
Cure Organic Farm has a market that is open on Wednesday evenings from 3-6pm till mid December. All sorts of good food is available. In addition to gorgeous produce there is Cure honey, Lasater Grasslands briskets, meaty shanks (for stew & broth), filet Mignon, and western slope fresh fruit available. You don't have to be a CSA member to shop - all are welcome. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What are the best cuts for stir fry or fajitas?

My friend Jen asked this question recently. So I did a little searching and found that any tender beef cut, such as sirloin, top sirloin, tri-tip, ribeye, top loin or tenderloin may be trimmed and cut into the appropriate size strips for use in beef stir-fry or fajita recipes. I did find a reference that said you may use some less tender cuts, such as flank or top round for these types of dishes as well. One source suggested freezing the beef piece for approximately 30 minutes then slice it into thin strips. 
If any of you make stir fry or fajitas, please get back to me about your success or failure. And please send me any additional cooking tips for these dishes. I will try it soon, and let you know how it goes. 
Rib-eye Steaks
Some tips for making a great stir fry are:
  • Cut ingredients roughly the same size
  • Make sure all ingredients are chopped before you begin
  • Use medium-high temperature
  • Let the pan heat up before adding oil or fat
  • Give the oil at least a minute to heat up too
  • Cook thicker and harder vegetables first
  • Keep stirring, vegetables need to be moved
  • Stir fry meat first, then remove from pan when it is about 80% finished
  • When your vegetables are done, add meat back into pan for final heating/cooking
  • Serve immediately